Last week author friend Jenny Barden invited me to describe my writing process as part of a writers’ blog tour (you’ll have guessed this already from my blog’s title :) ) Jenny Barden is a historical romance writer and author of Mistress of the Sea and The Lost Duchess. You can find out more about Jenny’s books and her writing process on her post here.
Thanks for inviting me, Jenny!
Here are the questions that form the tour, and my answers:
1) What are you working on?
I’ve just submitted a romance about a young widow whose photographer husband dies in Afghanistan. She’s so wrapped up in her grief that it’s a long time before she realises her husband’s closest friend has been in love with her ever since they first met. The story is about how she deals with this revelation, and how the two of them deal with their grief.
For a couple of weeks after subbing this novel I felt bereft. I felt like I’d lost my old friends and didn’t know what to do with myself. I’ve since started another novel and am “writing my way in” and getting to know my characters. In the meantime I’ve also written a few short stories and am presently working on a dramatic and romantic short story involving a Princess, an actress lookalike, and a bodyguard. This one’s a lot of fun!
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
All romance novels – even the greatest such as Jane Austen’s – follow a certain basic structure. There will be an apparently irresolvable emotional conflict that keeps the protagonists apart until the final pages and the guaranteed happy ending.
All romance writers know that it’s incredibly difficult to write genre romance and give stories a new voice. That’s why I was so thrilled when I received this review for my novel The Silk Romance:
“Let me say straight off that this book was deliciously different, and yet, comfortably similar, to many other romances. And it was the differences that made this story fresh, and kept me reading past my bedtime…until I finished the book!“
I try to keep my writing style fresh, my characters engaging and believable, and to place the action in an interesting and unusual setting. This reviewer, at least, thought that I had succeeded, and so I was chuffed to read her comments.
3) Why do I write what I do?
I write romance novels quite simply because I love reading them. I find the sort of stories that can be told through the medium of romance are positive, optimistic and have a compassionate and sympathetic outlook. And when I turn to romantic fiction as a reader, I can enjoy the delicious anticipation that everything is going to turn out just as it ought – the girl will get the boy and the bad guys will get whatever’s coming to them.
4) How does my writing process work?
I begin by doing what I call “mulling”. I will be hit for an idea for a source of conflict between a hero and heroine, and as I’m walking the dog or cooking tea my mind is ticking over and piecing together my story. Emotional conflict is the cornerstone of a romance novel. For example, in The Silk Romance the hero wants the heroine to remain with him in France. The heroine’s family lives in England, and she made her mother a dying promise to look after her ailing father. The hero has a strong character, and is the sort of man accustomed to having his way. The heroine is concerned he is trying to take control of her life, and this is the source of the conflict. How can the hero and heroine resolve this together?
Once I’ve worked through the source of the conflict in my mind, and made sure it’s cast iron and believable, then I begin to sketch in the characters in more depth. The hero and heroine must have reasons why they behave as they do. What in the hero’s background has made him so determined, for example? The reader needs to be presented with characters who are believable, with believable motives for their actions.
The conflict and the characterisation are the foundations of my novel. Once they are in place, I devise a series of situations that test the conflict to the utmost, which form the storyline. I don’t like to write down a totally structured novel outline at the start, because sometimes ideas occur to me as I’m writing, and I might move the novel in a slightly different direction, but the basics are in place before I put pen to paper.
So that more or less describes my writing process, although where my ideas come from is another thing altogether, and worthy of a post on its own!
I’m now going to pass the baton on to three author friends, who will be posting their own writing process next Friday, 25th April. Call in next week and discover some new authors!
Juli D. Revezzo is a Florida girl, with a love of fantasy, science fiction, and Arthurian legend, so much so she gained a B.A. in English and American Literature. She loves writing stories with fantastical elements whether it be a full-on fantasy, or a story set in this world-slightly askew. She has been published in short form in various indie publications and anthologies like Crossing the River, An Anthology in Honor of Sacred Journeys. She’s the author of The Antique Magic series and the Paranormal Romance Harshad Wars series.She is a member of the Independent Author Network and the Magic Appreciation Tour.
Yolanda Ashton is the alter ego of a thirty-something mother of three. Throughout daylight hours she’s an educational professional and during the nights (when she’s not daydreaming, reading and/or watching vampire drama) she’s writing, hanging with family and trying to recover from a day spent with middle school students.
JoAnne Myers has been a long-time resident of southeastern Ohio, and worked in the blue-collar industry most of her life. Besides having several novels under her belt, she canvas paints.
When not busy with hobbies or working outside the home, JoAnne spends time with relatives, her dog Jasmine, and volunteer her time within the community. She is a member of the International Women’s Writing Guild, Savvy Authors, Coffee Time Romance, Paranormal Romance Guild, True Romance Studios, National Writers Association, the Hocking Hill’s Arts and Craftsmen Association, The Hocking County Historical Society and Museum, and the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center. JoAnne believes in family values and following your dreams.
JoAnne’s original canvas paintings, can be found at Books and Paintings by JoAnne
I hope you’ve enjoyed finding out about my writing process. If you’re a writer, how do you go about the process of putting a novel together? And if you’re a reader, what do you look for in a great romance? If you have any questions or comments at all, I’d love to hear from you!
12 thoughts on “My Writing Process – Blog Tour”
I really enjoyed reading about your writing process, Helena – good luck with that new submission!
Thanks, Ros! I’m carrying on with the next novel in the meantime – but fingers crossed! Thanks for your comment! On Apr 18, 2014 8:55 AM, “Helena Fairfax” wrote:
It’s always interesting to read about how authors craft the stories that I love to read Helena. I’ll be checking out the other authors you have listed to see how much their processes differ. :)
Thanks, Tina! I like blogs like this, as it’s a chance to meet authors I wouldn’t otherwise have got to know. Hope you enjoy the other posts!
Great post, Helena. I’m fascinated by all your “mulling.” I have to “mull” on paper or I don’t remember what I’ve “mulled.” LOL Whatever your process it allows you to turn our wonderful romances. Keep on writing. Good luck with your last submission.
I do write my mulling down when it starts getting complicated or I think I might forget a certain train of thought. I’ve a book full of “mulling” scribbles! Thanks for coming, Marsha!
I do the mulling thing too, who they are, what big bad evil is my heroine going to fight, how can it hurt her. >:) Stuff like that. Good luck with your latest submissions, Helena and thank you for the mention!
Thanks, Juli! I enjoyed your writing process post very much – it was fun! Thanks so much for taking part in the tour!
I like the idea of mulling your story over in your head. I guess that’s what I do too. The problem is when I have a brilliant Idea it’s usually at 3 a.m. and by 7 a.m. I forgot what that brilliant idea was! sigh…Loved your post and learning about your writing process. It works because I love your romance novels!
Thanks so much, JQ!! Why is it we can sit for half an hour in front of a laptop waiting for inspiration, and then have our best idea in the middle of the night when there’s no pen to hand? It’s always the way! Thanks for your great comment!